Symbol of tolerance – Banya Bashi Mosque in sightseeing Sofia
Banya Bashi Mosque, Molla Efendi or Kadi Seyfullah Mosque are all names of the only functioning mosque in Sofia. Once there were 70 mosques in Sofia. Today, though, this is the only one left. The Kadi of Sofia at that time, Kadi Seyfullah Efendi, initiated and sponsored the building of the mosque, a sightseeing Sofia. The mosque had been built in memory of his late wife. The mosque is an architectural wonder and a landmark in the capital of Bulgaria that can easily be recognised.
Until the XVIII century centre of the European Ottoman possession was Sofia. Soon it became a big administrative and commercial centre. As a result, many businessmen and travellers from different regions of the empire visited the city. And Sofia developed very quickly. First, Constantine the Great exclaimed that Sofia was his Rome. Then, Ottomans estimated the merits of Sofia more than a century later. There used to be over 100 mosques, a Kervansaray, bedestens, madrasas, libraries, marble baths… The destroying of many mosques and churches marked the first decades after the Liberation. Sofia sightseeing, Banya Bashi Mosque survives in the name of religious tolerance. It is a symbol of religious tolerance as well as coexistence in Sofia. Other places of worship surround the mosque. These are an Orthodox church and a synagoue.
The good location as a mantra
Up to the Liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman rule (1878), centre of Sofia used to be Banya Bashi Square. All the main streets got together there. There used to be the carsi (the shopping street) and the Mineral Baths. Also, there was a fountain, stalls. Even there used to be a pavillion where they would give free cold mineral water for drinking. On the square one could see the graves of two notable donors of Sofia, Emin Dede and Molla Seyfullah Efendi.
Banya Bashi Mosque is built on thermal springs. In fact, this is where it derives its name from. Banya Bashi translates to many baths in Turkish. The thermal water beneath the mosque is widely popular with those looking for natural remedies as people believe it has healing properties.
Take your shoes off, sightseeing Sofia
It seems nobody had ever estimated the mosque’s valuableness properly. And the mosque has a great value because the architect and civil engineer Mimar Sinan built it. He was one of the genius architects in the world. The mosque combines in a unique way Ottoman and Bulgarian architectural styles. The year of the completion of Banya Bashi Mosque’s construction was 1566.
The mosque has four domes in the middle of which there is a single minaret. The walls of the mosque were made of stone. Therefore, when one enters Banya Bashi Mosque, one goes through a beautifully built arcade supported by three stone pillars. The pillars support three domes covered in lead. The central room has the shape of a cube with a semi-spherical dome supported and designed from outside with half-arches. The dome is a universal architectural way to embody the sky. Its main purpose is when one enters that room under it, to be able to feel Good and get closer to Him.
In the interior of the mosque the floral motifs are more than the geometrical ones. They are combined with beautifully written citations from the Quran. One gets the feeling that a carpet is hanging from the wall. That comes from an ancient Turkish tradition to hang carpets in their tents. Repeating the same motif, gives the feeling that it is an endless space. That is in fact the Muslim idea of art – it rejects the completeness.
The mosque – a place for praying, reading a sermon and meditation
It is obligatory to take your shoes off when entering Banya Bashi Mosque, part of private Sofia tours. Women should cover their heads and shoulders with a scarf.
Banya Bashi Mosque is not among the three most beautiful and precious mosques that Koca Mimar Sinan designed. The interesting thing here is the fact that in 1566 – the completion of the mosque, Sinan was over 80. That is, Mimar Sinan built the mosque in Sofia in his mature period.
Mimar Sinan made a project for a mosque in Sofia. That once again gives proofs of the significant role of Sofia. By the way, that wasn’t the only project.
The Muslim temple, a sightseeing Sofia, can fit 700 worshippers. The whole area around it is particularly lively on Fridays. Then, they broadcast the service inside the mosque on the loudspeaker for those who cannot fit inside.
Unusual construction materials together with mysterious underground tunnels mark the secrecy the mosque implies.
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